Almost half of broadband users in major European countries have previewed or watched episodes of their favourite television programmes on the internet. Around half also expect to be making video calls using their television within five years.

An independent study commissioned by Motorola conducted an online survey of over 2,500 broadband users in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The results indicate that 45% of them had ever watched previews or episodes of their favourite television programmes on the internet. That number increased to 59% in France, followed by Spain at 48%, the UK at 43%, Italy with 42% and Germany at 33%.

Unsurprisingly, almost two-thirds of those under 25 claimed to have watched programmes on the internet, while seven out of ten of those over 55 had never done so.

“These results show that viewers across Europe are no longer satisfied with fitting into schedules dictated by broadcasters and are turning to the choice and flexibility offered by TV over the internet,” said Karl Elliott of Motorola’s Connected Home Solutions division. “We are witnessing a nation of citizen schedulers who are in control of their entertainment, allowing them to watch what they want, how and when they want it.”

At the moment, most online viewing of television programming is on the computer screen rather than the television, but that may change as new devices enable televisions to be connected directly to the internet.

A surprising 57% of respondents said they wanted to be able to go online via the television set during a live broadcast, while 35 per cent wanted the ability to pause, fast forward or rewind broadcast programming.

According to the survey, 36% said they had made a video call over the internet, rising to around half of those in Italy and Spain, while 45% expect to be making video calls via their home television by 2012.

So far, attempts to marry television with the web, or provide video calling using the television, have met with little success but Motorola hopes that its set-top boxes will change that. According to Karl Elliott of Motorola: “Your faithful television has become the doorway to entertainment in your home; the most recognisable living-room feature is becoming one of the most important means of communication.”

A one-day workshop on Delivering Online TV and Video on Monday 14 May is being hosted in London by informitv as part of the informa Online TV and Video Summit.